June 12, 2024

The Downtown Kitchener Maple Sugar Shack kicks off spring at the Kitchener Farmer’s Market on April 2 with a celebration of local maple syrup and other Canadian-themed products.

Maple syrup is more than just something to put on pancakes in Canada; it’s something many people consider part of Canadian culture, and the flag even perfectly represents that.

“We partnered with the Kitchener Market and found that the maple syrup harvest was a great kickoff to nicer weather, a great celebration of our local harvests, and something that all communities can rally around,” Samantha Staresincic, the Downtown Marketing and Program Coordinator for the City of Kitchener, said in an email.

As a first-time event, the Downtown Kitchener Maple Sugar Shack is hoping to gather the community to support locally made products with a Canadian theme, featuring plaid, fiddles, poutine, maple syrup, as well as other multicultural food options.

While the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19 for another year, this Downtown Kitchener-based market offers the community a chance to satisfy their maple syrup craving.

Willibald Farm Distillery and Brewery in Ayr, Ontario. Photo courtesy of Tyler Ball.

There will also be a German-style biergarten, hosted by Willibald Farm Distillery and Brewery, complete with many types of alcoholic beverages and products.

“We’re going to be bringing some different seltzers, beer, and spirits for people to buy and drink there, and there’s also going to be an opportunity for people to buy products to take home,” said Tyler Ball, a sales manager for Willibald Farm Distillery and Brewery. “It’s kind of a unique sampling opportunity.”

Willibald is a local ‘farm-to-glass’ distillery and brewery based in Ayr, Ontario, that focuses on the flavour and experience of their drinks.

Overall, there are 15 vendors confirmed to be at the event, ranging from art, candles, and on-site crafts with demonstrations, to maple syrup vendors, like Roth’s Maple Syrup.

“We make maple syrup, and we also make maple candy and maple butter,” said Ian Roth, the owner of Roth’s Maple Syrup in New Hamburg, Ontario. “It’s usually wild and fierce at the beginning, and it’s just a short season of a harvest, so everything happens at once.”

Roth’s grandfather harvested maple syrup many years ago. Since nobody else followed his footsteps, Roth decided to start a larger-scale operation for maple syrup.

A lineup of maple syrup products available from Roth’s Maple Syrup. Photo courtesy of Ian Roth.

The Downtown Kitchener Maple Sugar Shack will also feature live music from three different musicians for the duration of the event, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“There’s a deep history in the region for syrup harvesting starting with the various Indigenous communities, and currently, a number of syrup farmers,” said Staresincic in an email. “We hope this encourages everyone to spend their spring supporting everything local, farmed and foraged.”

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